NICHOLL’S TOWN, Andros – The Government of the Bahamas has commenced work on a sustainable development plan for the island of Andros. The project is being funded by the Inter-American Development Bank, led by The Office of the Prime Minister and supported by the Natural Capital Group, a researcher of the College of The Bahamas and local consulting firm.
In the absence of Prime Minister, the Right Hon. Perry G. Christie (who was traveling), Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development, the Hon. Philip Davis delivered the keynote address at the 4th Annual Andros Business Outlook. The event was held on Thursday, July 23, at Daniel’s Dream Centre. The theme for this year’s seminar was “Securing Andros through Planning, Partnership and Productivity.”
Mr. Davis said that the project would serve as a pilot project for all other development Master Plans throughout The Bahamas.
He said: “This project augments the work which is ongoing for the National Development Plan. The Andros project involves a $600,000 grant to The Bahamas to carry out 4 major activities:
• The measurement of the economic value of Andros’ ecosystem services, inclusive of its coastal and marine ecosystems, pine forests, mangroves, sea grass beds and tidal creeks – all of the natural areas that Androsians use to make a life for themselves;
• The development of realistic development scenarios in consultation with Androsians, taking into consideration the well-being of the residents of this island and the entire Bahamas;
• An assessment of the various alternative development scenarios for Andros; and
• The development of a proposal for a viable physical development plan that optimizes the economic value of Andros’ natural capital.”
Mr. Davis said that a team from the Office of the Prime Minister, the IDB and Natural Capital (the country’s technical advisors) began its tour of Andros and held several town meetings this week. The team visited North Andros, including the BAMSI facility, Mangrove Cay and South Andros. The team will visit Central Andros towards the end of the month.
“The staff of the Office of the Prime Minister has reported the preliminary outcome of the meetings. Throughout the communities, there was a feeling of concern that development had not been happening around Andros,” said Minister Davis. “It was noted that Androsians in the South felt cut off from the development in the North due to a lack of affordable water transportation. These are important market opportunities for astute business persons.”
Mr. Davis also mentioned the important role that that the new Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) will play in the country’s sustainability. He said that the government plans to investment upwards of $20 million for the creation of a world-class agricultural and marine science school which will equip Bahamians and others alike to feed this country in a sustainable manner.
As it relates to eco-tourism, he said that there are plans to support the development of small lodges which engage in activities that support economic development for Andros and its people, and are also friendly to the environment.
“We have tremendous bird watching, hunting, fly and bone fishing potential here. We must harness these opportunities,” he said.
“We also plan to explore how we might best use, in an environmentally sound manner, the deep-water port in Morgan’s Bluff in North Andros. The potential for redevelopment of that area is high.”
Finally, he said that as part of Andros’ Sustainable Master Plan project, the focus is on building capacity via familiarizing technical staff in the public service with the techniques and research principles which consider the environment, nature, bio-diversity and the real lives of the human beings living in a place, before making development and investment decisions.
“We are grateful for the partnership, thus far with the IDB and Natural Capital. We have invited the district administrators and chief councilors of Andros to become a part of our various committees along with the representatives from the various chambers of commerce on Andros so that the voice of Andros is truly heard in the development planning process.”